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April 27 (Reuters) - Noble Corp Plc's quarterly profit plunged 41 percent, coming slightly below analysts' expectations, hurt by lower demand for rigs as oil prices hover around decade lows.
The prolonged slump in oil prices has led to a steep decline in drilling activity, mainly in the offshore market, as oil and gas producers cut costs.
Noble's average rig utilization fell to 79 percent in the first quarter ended March 31 from 86 percent, a year earlier.
Average day rate, the amount an oil and gas company pays per day for a rig, fell 15.5 percent to $287,169.
The net profit attributable to Noble fell to $105.5 million, or 42 cents per share, while operating revenue declined nearly 24 percent to about $612 million.
Excluding items, the company earned 31 cents per share, missing the average analyst estimate of 33 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Noble's shares were up slightly at $12 in extended trading on Wednesday.
Up to Wednesday's close, the stock had fallen nearly 27 percent in the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 Oil & Gas Drilling index had declined 28 percent.
Reporting by Manish Parashar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey